Samples of Joint Custody Schedules

"We have joint custody." Divorced and separated parents have tossed these words around for years, but there's not one single schedule for or definition of the term. ​


Custody can be physical, legal, or both. When parents share joint legal custody, they both have a say in major decisions regarding the child's life, such as education, religious upbringing, and ​medical care. When parents have joint physical custody, their children spend roughly an equal amount of time living in each of their homes, although it doesn't necessarily have to be an exact 50/50 split. ​

These six joint custody schedules provide for almost equal time for the kids with both parents. You can tweak and adjust the schedules to meet your family's unique needs.

It's important to settle on a routine that works for everyone and takes several things into consideration, such as both parents' work schedules, your kids' school schedules, their extracurricular​​ activities, and even driving considerations if you live more than 30 miles apart

All these plans should give you a good starting point.  


Option # 1: Alternating Weeks

Alternating weeks joint custody schedule
Jennifer Wolf

The children live at mom's house one week, then switch over to dad's house the next week with this schedule. Many families choose to make the transition on Fridays or over the weekend, but you can choose whatever day of the week works best for you.

As with most joint physical custody schedules, this one requires that your children have fully functional bedrooms and living space in each of your homes.

Maintain separate wardrobes, toys, and favorite electronics at each place to the extent possible. You don't want your kids to feel like vagabonds, dragging their favorite stuff back and forth between your homes every week. 


Option #2: A Midweek Visit

Alternating weeks with a midweek visit joint custody schedule
Jennifer Wolf

Many families add a midweek evening visit to their alternating week's schedule, so the children never go a full week without seeing either parent. The sample schedule shown here has that mid-week visit taking place on Tuesdays, but you can choose whatever day works best for your family.


Option #3: A Midweek Overnight

Alternating weeks with a midweek overnight joint custody schedule
Jennifer Wolf

With this schedule, the children alternate residences one day a week (usually on Fridays), but they enjoy one mid-week overnight with the other parent. The midweek overnight visit takes place on Tuesdays on the calendar shown here, but this isn't carved in stone if another night works better with your kids' extracurricular and social schedules or your work schedules. 


Option #4: A 2-2-3 Rotation

2-2-3 rotation joint custody schedule
Jennifer Wolf

With this custody schedule, the children reside with Parent A for two days, then with Parent B for two days, then spend a long three-day weekend with Parent A.

The next week, the routine flips and the children reside with Parent B for two days, then Parent A for two days, before spending a long three-day weekend with Parent B. This allows the parents to have alternate weekends with the children.

The downside is the stress it might place on your children, particularly if they're young or you and your ex do not live relatively close to each other.

Moving to the other parent's home every few days can be disruptive. It might seem to your kids that it's time to leave again as soon as they settle in.

And you'll all be spending a lot of time on the road if you and your ex live a considerable distance apart. 


Option #5: A 3-3-4-4 Rotation

3-3-4-4 rotation joint custody schedule
Jennifer Wolf

The children spend three days with Parent A, three days with Parent B, then four days with Parent A with this schedule, followed by another four days with Parent B.

The advantage is that the children are always at one residence on Sundays through Tuesdays, and at the other residence on Wednesdays through Fridays. The only day that changes from week to week is Saturdays, giving a weekend day to each parent. The longer duration of each parent's home might be a little less disruptive for the kids. 


Option #6: A 2-2-5-5 Rotation

3-3-4-4 rotation for joint custody
Jennifer Wolf

This routine is similar to the 3-3-4-4 schedule, but the children reside with Parent A for two days, then Parent B for two days, followed by five days with Parent A and five days with Parent B.

Like the 3-3-4-4 day rotation, this schedule allows the children to spend Sundays and Mondays in one residence, and Tuesdays and Wednesdays at the other. The only days that fluctuate from week to week are Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

Whatever custody schedule you choose, remember to give everyone in your family time to adjust before making changes.

A Word From Verywell

Making the plan formal by writing it into an official parenting plan might help everyone stick to the schedule and remember its finer details as well. Consider revisiting the plan every once in a while to make sure it continues to meet all of your needs. Above all, allow your children a voice in the planning and discussion if they're old enough.​​

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